The debate over the legal status of drugs is a significant issue in our society due to the number of people fined and imprisoned each year for possessing these substances as well as the resources spent by law enforcement enforcing drug laws. However, what are the legal justifications for the current proscriptions? Looking specifically at the drug user, I will examine what I believe is the most powerful category of arguments in favor of laws against drugs: harm to others. I then adopt the Harm Principle articulated by John Stuart Mill in his work On Liberty as an account to test whether the current legal status of drugs is justifiable as harm to others. Nevertheless, in only a few extraordinary exceptions does drug use directly harm others (that is, as a direct consequence of using drug [x] person [y] is harmed). Thus, increased risks of harm to others and harm to society seem the strongest rationales for criminalizing drugs. Drawing largely upon accounts put forth by Douglas Husak and Joel Feinberg, I argue that these approaches fall short of being convincing in most all cases.
Lucas, Kyle J. Mr.
"Does the Harm Principle Justify Criminal Drug Statutes Against Drug Use?,"
The Hilltop Review: Vol. 7
, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/hilltopreview/vol7/iss1/6